Tuesday, May 15
All morning yesterday I tried to find words, any words. I have been reading the news headlines, the blogs, the Facebook posts. I have been sorting through my feelings of sadness and sorrow. Our current president and I agree on almost nothing. Although I am free to voice my disagreement, it seems worthless. My words seem to dissipate into the wind, evaporating into nothing.
The free and elite dance and toast while the oppressed offer their objection to having everything taken from them, even to their very deaths, picked off the earth like ripe olives falling to the ground. Nothing, they are nothing. How dare they object to what God has ordained? God has ordained their suffering, say some. Signs read “kill them all.” Some (not all, for sure) of the very ones whose grandparents endured unspeakable atrocities are blind to the suffering of others and are willing to snuff them out like a candle at dusk.
Unfortunately, the news media only provides a very small slice of the entire situation on the ground. When I watch the news and see Israeli and American politicians, I think of Israelis and Jews around the world who do not agree with this. When I see the young Palestinians hurling stones and burning tires, I think of my dear friends who greet me with a kiss and only want to live their lives in freedom and without fear. And I want to introduce all Americans to these precious ones who suffer because of the decisions of the rich and powerful, and sometimes it feels like almost everyone agrees that it is okay that they suffer, that they somehow deserve it. They must be terrorists. They must be intrinsically evil. And yet, those same people claim their rights to own weapons of war because they would fight to the death to protect their own homes, property, and families.
The following is a Facebook post from my friend, Mercy, who is currently living in Bethlehem, and has given me permission to share:
“I write this to the sound of tear gas and ambulances outside my window. Bethlehem is all closed due to a general day of mourning as our Palestinian friends commemorate the deaths in Gaza yesterday and the 70th anniversary of the “Nakba” (the tragedy) today. This anniversary just “happens” to coincide with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, which is bitter salt in an open and bleeding wound that is less resolved and more precarious today than it was yesterday.
70 years ago, over 400 Palestinian villages—Muslim and Christian—were ethnically cleansed and destroyed, some 750,000 inhabitants forced out or fleeing for their lives in fear after several villages had been massacred by Jewish militias. Today these villages are mostly erased from memory, planted over with trees or rebuilt as Jewish towns with quaint and expensive “old homes” whose former owners “mysteriously disappeared.”
Many of the people who fled are now exiled from the land of their birth and not allowed to return home — essentially because they are the wrong ethnicity. They live scattered around the world but they have never lost their longing for the home of their parents or grandparents.
Others were moved off into refugee camps that have become new versions of the “reservations” that my forefathers put the first nations people into, only some of these are surrounded completely by walls. 70% of Gaza, for example, is refugees and their descendants. The reservation/ghetto that they have been locked into is jailed from the outside.
Although the hope of early Zionists was that the Palestinians would eventually forget and move on, the opposite has occurred. Palestinians are as tenaciously and fervently connected to living in this land and its holy places as Jews were for 2,000 years in diaspora. Will we have to wait 70 more years and countless more lives taken before this bleeding wound is healed and resolved in a righteous way? “The old will die and the young will forget” was the Zionist idea of how Palestinians would process the Nakba, but here we are 70 years later and that adage has decidedly not come true.
Friends of Israel, friends of Palestine, I beg you to commit to the principle of equality and justice for all under the same law in this land. Work out your conclusions from that starting point, but not before that. If we don’t, I can guarantee that war will continue here. Where there is no justice, there is no peace. That’s an irrefutable law of nature and history.
Unfortunately, Western Christians have not helped this situation as a whole, but rather enabled the dysfunction here, thinking that they were fulfilling biblical prophecy. I beg you to rethink your eschatology if you are of the persuasion that perpetual war is the prophesied future of this land and nothing can be done to stop it.
Most of all, please pray for everyone here in this land, whether Muslim, Christian, or Jew. I love the people here so much I feel I would tear out my own heart for them, any of them. And my time here has convinced me that their prosperity and peace is tied up with each other and not apart from one another. If you love them too, or even just “some” of them, know that you can only help some if you are willing to love and work for the equality of ALL. (And of course that lesson is not just here in this land but also true across this tiny planet).”